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Miners in new era of investment

This article is from the Townsville Bulletin issue of Tuesday, 1 Oct

Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the report noted improved productivity in the mining sector in recent years, particularly in iron ore mining as the industry shifts from the investment phase to the production phase.

“During the boom, resources companies invested hundreds of billions of dollars in new and expanded capacity. Investment in plant and equipment is picking up again and reached its highest level in almost six years in the June quarter,” he said.

“As miners replace and expand their fleets, a wave of new innovation is coming through, giving Australia a crucial edge in a massive and highly competitive global market .

“Overall, the report indicates that the success and hard work of Australia’s mining sector is paying off in spades: through record export earnings , growing productivity, a current account surplus and the delivery of crucial infrastructure and new technology .” The latest Resources and Energy quarterly report also found Australia’s zinc production increased to 1.3 million tonnes (40 per cent increase ) year-on-year for January to July.

But as exports are tipped to grow in line with rising production , lower prices are expected to soften the revenue impact.

“This increase was driven by production in the Mt Isa region , where a number of producers have revitalised operations that were shuttered in 2015,” the report stated.

“New Century’s ambitions to become one of the world’s top 10 zinc producers were bolstered by a 12 per cent production quarter-on-quarter increase in June and a landmark royalty agreement with the Queensland Government.

“MMG’s recently commissioned high-grade Dugald River mine had strong results, despite a planned maintenance shutdown, and Glencore’s Mount Isa operations produced 59 per cent more zinc concentrate from January to June 2019 than the same period last year, owing largely to the resurgence of the Lady Loretta mine.”

New Century’s born-again zinc mine at Lawn Hill became the first mine to ink a deal under the State Government’s new royalties framework.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said in Townsville alone the resource sector contributed $925 million to the economy and supported 5996 full-time positions.

“Queensland’s metals industry contributes $9.3 billion to the state’s economy while supporting more than 50,000 full-time jobs and paying $1.3 billion in wages. Most of this economic prosperity flows from the North West Province through to Townsville, which is a major metals export port,” he said.

“The potential for the state’s North West Minerals Province is enormous with deposits of copper, zinc and lead, which are in high demand as world demand for smartphones , solar panels and medical devices continues to grow.”

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